By Rajiv Talreja
‘Customer is king’, is a business principle that has been spoken about since the 1990’s management classes. I completely agree that your customer has to be served like a king, but only once they become your customer.
MSME’s soon realised that during the sales process, before the sale if you just walked the philosophy of ‘customer is king’, then as a business you run yourself into the trap of under-selling yourself and give in to the demands of your customers without protecting your interests because you have placed your customer at a higher pedestal than yourself. Your ability to demand what you want goes down the moment you place the other at a level above yourself.
That’s when organisations evolved to the second generation business principle in the early years of the new millennium of “win-win” relationship. The idea behind win-win relationship was to assure customers that value will be delivered to them and yet demand fairness from customers to get into a relationship that is mutually beneficial.
Win-win relationship is a great philosophy and also serves as a great sales pitch for businesses to negotiate and create a relationship based on mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual benefit. However, for MSME‘s to deliver on the promise of a win-win relationship here is one more win to keep in mind – your team also wins.
So here is the third business principle for MSME’s to follow in order to ensure they can make their customers win, which I call the “win-win-win” philosophy”. Consider this, any business has three stakeholders – the customer, the team members and the business owner. While in sales, we talk about a win-win relationship, what we ignore is that to make our customers win, we need to ensure our team members win.
The mass conditioning of most people in jobs is – “What is the least work that I can do and most pay I can demand?” and the mass conditioning of most MSME entrepreneurs is – “What is the least I can pay to my team and maximum result I can get from my team?” These two world views are conflicting in nature. This creates a lose-lose relationship within any organisation and neither party gets their way.
The key is for MSME’s to build a win-win-win culture where we engage the team by understanding their personal growth aspirations and tie those personal goals with the business goals of delivering massive value to the customers. Only when a business delivers massive value to the customers and ensure that the customer is winning, will the business grow and win. And only when the business grows can it fulfil the personal aspirations of team members and make sure they win as well as the business owner wins.
The secret sauce behind happy customers is to have happy team members. You cannot create happiness on the outside if your organization is not happy on the inside. In the same way, you cannot make your customers win and fulfil the promise of win-win relationships until and unless you make your team members win.
A note of caution – win-win-win is not a free opportunity wherein a business fulfils the personal growth aspirations of team members without the contribution being proportionate from a team member. That would mean win-win-lose where the customer gets value, team members get the growth they want without contribution and the business owner is losing because he is creating that growth out of obligation.
Win-win-win is a joint responsibility where the team members and business owners come together to add value to the customers and thereby creating growth for the business which can make the team members and business owners win by fulfilling their goals.
( The writer is a transformational business coach)